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Ravens unscathed by juggling; Palmer untouched on day of hires, comes here on inside track; Ravens may hire him today; Schottenheimer ends K.C. run, but to 'relax'


Two more NFL head coaches were hired yesterday and another one resigned, but the Ravens still have an opportunity to hire a quality assistant for their top position, including Jacksonville offensive coordinator Chris Palmer, who will visit the Ravens today.

The Green Bay Packers hired Ray Rhodes, the Philadelphia Eagles named Andy Reid and Marty Schottenheimer resigned from the Kansas City Chiefs. The Ravens, according to a team source, rated Schottenheimer the third-best candidate behind Mike Holmgren and George Seifert.

But Schottenheimer, the AFC's winningest coach the past 10 years, spoke in terms of retirement -- though he did leave the door open to a possible return.

"I really don't know. I've never been retired before," said Schottenheimer, who coached under Ravens owner Art Modell in Cleveland from 1984 to 1988. "I'm not sure how this works. I think I'll take the time, sit back, relax and then decide what I'm going to do for the rest of my life. It might take only 30 days; it might take a year.

"I was given 10 years to get it done, and I didn't get it done. It was time to let someone else have a chance."

With Schottenheimer leaving, there are now four NFL job openings -- Cleveland, Chicago, Kansas City and Baltimore. Thus far, only Cleveland has expressed interest in Palmer and the Ravens' other top candidate, Minnesota offensive coordinator Brian Billick.

There is a possibility that if Palmer does well in the interviews today, the Ravens may not wait for Billick and hire Palmer.

Neither Ozzie Newsome, the Ravens' vice president of player personnel, nor David Modell, their vice president of marketing, returned phone calls yesterday.

Former Carolina coach Dom Capers is regarded as the leading candidate in Kansas City, followed by Chiefs offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye, defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham and assistant head coach/receivers coach Al Saunders.

The Ravens have interviewed Pittsburgh Steelers defensive coordinator Jim Haslett and Eagles defensive coordinator Emmitt Thomas. Haslett met with Ravens team officials yesterday at the team's practice facility in Owings Mills. Jacksonville defensive coordinator Dick Jauron and Stanford coach Tyrone Willingham are also long-shot candidates, but Palmer appears the current front-runner.

The Ravens apparently were impressed with Haslett, a fiery coach who has been known to get in a player's face. According to several team officials, he displayed that same passion yesterday.

"One, I'm an ex-player, so I understand what players go through. Two, I know this football team because we've played them every year," said Haslett, a Pro Bowl linebacker with Buffalo in 1980 and 1981. "I researched this job. You've got a first-class owner that's done everything first class since he has been in the league. To me, this is one of those clubs that has a chance to win and win fast.

"There are some really good football players here, some good young talent. They've done a great job of drafting the last couple of years."

Haslett, 43, has run the Steelers' defense the past two seasons. Last season the Steelers were ranked 12th, and were the best team in the league at limiting opponents inside the 20-yard line. Chicago and Cleveland also have asked permission from the Steelers to speak with Haslett.

Palmer, 49, has spent the past two seasons as the highly successful offensive coordinator of the Jaguars. Before that, he coached for four years in New England, the first three as a receivers coach. Palmer's specialty is working with quarterbacks. In 1996 he worked with Drew Bledsoe, who led the Patriots to the Super Bowl that season. He also has worked with Jacksonville's Mark Brunell.

He is more of an attraction for the Ravens because they would lure him away from an AFC Central rival, one that is 8-0 in the series against the Browns/Ravens.

Billick is the mastermind behind one of the most explosive offenses in league history, and he was auditioning Sunday in the Vikings' 41-21 win over the Arizona Cardinals in the NFC semifinal game.

Billick didn't run the same formation in the first 15 plays and even pulled out a few trick plays. The Ravens, though, can't talk with him until the Vikings are knocked out of the playoffs.

That creates a problem for the Ravens. Do they try to hire Palmer now or wait for Billick?

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Pub Date: 1/12/99

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